Aug
17
2008

  The Spider Eats the Grasshopper

This morning I went out to measure the distance between the bay window and the front porch, since I'm working on my garden design. There are spiders all over the place, so I generally keep an eye out and try to measure around them without disturbing their webs.

Today, while I was standing just inches from a web, a grasshopper blindly jumped into the web. I watched as the spider ran over it as it was struggling, and quickly wrapped the front half of it with more web. The spider just crawled over and around it in circles, dispensing web as it went. The web it sprayed was much thicker than the web it makes to begin with. But it didn't wrap the whole grasshopper up, just the top half of it. Then it looked like it bit the grasshopper, and went back to the top of its web to wait.

I stuck around to see what the grasshopper would do, since it's back legs weren't web-wrapped. It sat still for a while, then in a burst of motion waved it's back legs around like it was trying to jump. But there was nothing for them to push against since it was just suspended in the web. If the legs hit the web, it was useless since the web either broke or just got attached to the legs. Then the grasshopper would rest again. It looked like it was breathing heavy, but I'm not sure if grasshoppers breathe--do insects have lungs? But after it caught its breath, if that's what it was doing, it would be still for a little bit then try to escape again. I felt bad for the grasshopper since it didn't seem like it would be able to get away. But I chose not to free it, since the spider did catch it fair and square. To me, spiders are no more or less valuable than grasshoppers, so I just let nature take its course.

Grasshoppers actually annoy me more than spiders, since the grasshoppers just hop all over the place like idiots, and are always hopping into me when I walk around outside. The spiders stay in place. As long as you don't run into their webs, they leave you alone. But we've got the giant black & yellow garden spiders, and they are a bit creepy when you see one unexpectedly. They're about 1" long bodies, and including their legs I guess they're about 2" diameter.